Ear-piercing engine sounds and the smell of burning tires. Formula One, the world’s fastest sport, is back again this year.
Korea held its inaugural F1 Grand Prix in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, last year and the second edition of the event is slated for Oct. 14-16.
One big change from last year’s event is that the local organizer has reduced ticket prices by 30 percent from the previous season.
The average ticket price is now down to 315,000 won ($279) from 460,000 won ($407), and a three-day ticket at the main grandstand is now priced at 890,000 won, down from 1 million won with grandstand tickets reduced to 380,000 won. The cheapest tickets are now priced at 87,000 compared to the 128,700 won charged last year.
There are also discounts for early birds, offering up to 50 percent savings on regular priced tickets, according to the local organizing committee.
For example, fans who purchase a grandstand ticket for the racing day in March will pay 140,000 won ($124), instead of 280,000 won ($248). Also, those who buy their tickets by the end of April will get a 30 percent discount, and 20 percent off until June.
“We cut the ticket price so more fans can afford to come to see the F1 race here,” said South Jeolla Province Governor Park Joon-yung at the launching ceremony of ticket distribution Wednesday at the Millennium Hilton Hotel in Seoul.
Park, who also heads the local organizing committee, admitted that Yeongam still needs to be developed to attract more fans. “We are now working hard to develop the area, building more hotels and leisure facilities around the race track,” Park added.
South Jeolla Province Gov. Park Joon-yung (second from right) poses with honorary ambassadors of the F1 Korean Grand Prix during the launching ceremony of ticket distribution at the Millennium Hilton Hotel, Seoul, Wednesday.(Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Korea hosted the country’s first F1 racing event from Oct. 22-24, 2010 on the newly built circuit in Yeongam, some 320 kilometers south of Seoul.
The local organizer managed to host the racing event after frantic last-minute work to complete the circuit. Although the 5.61-kilometer track was finished just in time for the race, they failed to pass a safety inspection on the spectator seats after struggling until the last minute to build the 80,000-seat stands.
After the race, the Korea Auto Valley Operation, the operating body of F1 Korean Grand Prix, came under fire for lax preparation and poor marketing. Chung Young-cho, the head of the KAVO, with two other top officials was dismissed from their posts following a board meeting earlier this year. Park Won-hwa, former Korean ambassador to Switzerland, was named as Chung’s replacement at the meeting.
The local organizer is now undergoing a “fundamental change” to prepare for this year’s race, according to Park Jong-moon, the secretary general of the F1 Korean Grand Prix Organizing Committee.
Park acknowledged that the construction delay, in particular, badly impacted its tickets sales. According to Park, the inaugural race attracted more than 170,000 visitors during the three-day event, but many of them came with free tickets as the organizers gave them away to fill the seats.
“We couldn’t sell the tickets as we didn’t even know when we could complete the track,” Park said. “But this year we have enough time to prepare, and fans now know there is an F1 race in Yeongam.”
“This year we will try to improve our ticket sales, advertising and revenues so that the F1 race can be firmly adopted here and further develop into part of our leisure industry,” Park, the governor of South Jeolla Province, added.
Tickets for Korean F1 Grand Prix are now on sale at the official website, www.koreangp.kr, and also at the online auction site www.interpark.com. The 2011 F1 race season begins in Melbourne on March 27 with 19 events scheduled.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com